We’re galloping toward the end of the Grand Tour, I am desperately sorry to say, and the time in Cefalu is already flying by. We’ve been joined by two gatecrashers: Llew’s parents arrived from Australia on Thursday, inspired by our rave reviews into booking their own Italian sojourn. They’re staying with us for a week, then heading off to the Amalfi and then on to Rome where we’ll meet again, though this time in separate accommodation. This apartment was huge for 2.5 of us, but we’re pretty cosy now! It’s been wonderful seeing the Touring Toddler’s response to the arrival of his grandparents; we weren’t sure how long it would take him to warm up, but in the event it was no time at all. He’s absolutely loving them being here, which of course is the best possible reception for Grandma and Granddad.
It’s funny after 3.5 months abroad to be suddenly talking about Australian politics and Australian society and Australian sport and Australian media again… I haven’t missed it, and aside from catching up with family and friends, I am not looking forward to going home. I just don’t want to be there anymore, and I am not sure what we are going to do about it as Llew feels very much the same. I had thought that a trip of this magnitude might attend to the itch to be elsewhere, but all this prolonged and exquisite scratching has only inflamed it.
We have a great life in Sydney, we love it, it’s home and we’re very privileged to have a place there, plus it hopefully goes without saying that we love our family and everyone in our wide circle of friends, but none of it has been able to extinguish the desire to start all over again somewhere else. And that desire has been compounded by a gradual but steady erosion over the past few years of my natural affection for other Australians. I’ve always liked my country, I’ve always liked my fellow Aussies, I’ve always been a big believer in the place and its people. But I realise from this remove that my faith has been quietly diminishing over time – there’s a variety of reasons for that, it’s not one thing – and now the thought of having to go back makes me want to cry.
I guess I am a bit disillusioned politically, philosophically, economically, intellectually and socially, and while perhaps I have no one but myself to blame for that, still I seem to feel better about things now I’m out of Australia. Of course, that is partially a function of denial: we have been avoiding addressing the reality of our situation, which is that we’re both unemployed. We have a child. We have a mortgage. We have bills. None of that is going to be pleasant – reentry promises to be unusually turbulent and we face a really hard time trying to work through our prospects. Hopefully we’ll eventually come up with some sort of plan for our future. Currently all we know is that the job market is pretty terrible for both of us, not just in Australia but around the world. Besides which, Llew doesn’t even want another job like the one he had, working in finance for a big bank. So he may well be starting from scratch in another industry, or taking a number of risks trying to work for himself. I have no idea what his next job looks like or where it will be.
And what job shall I start looking for…? It’s not exactly a great time to be an out-of-work writer – journalists are losing their jobs, and those that still have them are holding on for dear life. Part-time or full-time? And will I even earn enough to pay for the childcare I’ll require to return to the workforce at all? And what will be the effect on the Touring Toddler of all these huge changes to our household? Speaking of which, without jobs we can’t even afford to live in our own home upon our return. We need rent income to cover the mortgage repayments, so immediately upon landing in Sydney, we’ll have to find new tenants, move the rest of our stuff into storage and stay with Llew’s parents until we sort ourselves out. Really, the whole thing is a shambles. No wonder we favour denial. Denial’s been fun.
I had a dream last night all my teeth fell out, so the party is definitely winding down as my subconscious starts cracking the whip. I’m officially concerned for our future. But in the meantime, hey, we’re loving Sicily, and if we’re going down, we’re going down in a blaze of misspent euros. We’re in Italy, and it’s a beautiful life.